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September 30, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Yakima County woman is state’s 4th case of West Nile virus this year

The Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — Public health officials have confirmed one case of West Nile virus in Yakima County but will not identify the patient.

The patient is a woman in her 40s, state Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer said Monday. It’s not clear where the woman acquired the illness but she is receiving medical treatment.

“I don’t know if the person who is positive now is suspected of picking it up locally or not,” said Diane Bock, communicable diseases director at the Yakima Health District.

Bock said mosquitoes in a body of water in Yakima County tested positive for West Nile earlier this summer, but she did not know which body of water.

West Nile virus is mainly transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a person. So far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has logged 979 cases nationwide, though only about 20 percent of people who are infected will ever develop symptoms, including fever, rash, headache, vomiting and diarrhea.

In less than 1 percent of infected people, West Nile can cause severe neurologic illnesses such as encephalitis or meningitis, the CDC says. The disease is fatal in about 10 percent of that population.

There is no way to prevent or cure West Nile, Bock said, so people who become ill from the disease receive treatment to combat their symptoms.

According to CDC maps, Washington state has a low incidence of West Nile, with a rate of fewer than 0.25 cases per 100,000 people.

The state Department of Health had confirmed three cases earlier this year: a Walla Walla County man in his 20s, a King County man in his 70s and a Grays Harbor woman in her 50s.

In Yakima, Bock said, the health district sent out alerts to local physicians earlier this summer, reminding them to keep West Nile virus in the back of their mind when evaluating patients who fit certain criteria, such as recent activities near standing water or in humid environments, where mosquitoes are prevalent.

 

Comments | More in Health | Topics: West Nile virus, Yakima

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